What is the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act?
The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act replaced the Emergency Management Act of 2002 as a result of the poor response of both federal and provincial governments during the SARS outbreak between 2002 and 2004. One of the primary changes to the previous acts was the inclusion of emergencies related to health risks and disease.
In a nutshell, the EMCPA is an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that grants the Premier of Ontario and the Executive Council of Ontario the authority to declare a state of emergency for a period of 14 days, which can then be extended by an additional 14 days on a one-time basis. If needed, the EMCPA can further be extended by an additional 28 days only by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
During an EMCPA, municipalities are required to put into effect emergency preparedness and response programs they have developed and trained for under the guidance of Ontario Regulation 380/04.
How the Sault Police Service is using the EMCPA to respond, educate and if necessary enforce restrictions during the current pandemic.
Sault Ste. Marie Police Chief Stevenson took some time today to explain how the Sault Police Service is using the current COVID-19 pandemic to educate the Community on the importance of social and physical distancing measures intended to limit the communicable spread of the virus.
“Our approach to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act is to first and foremost educate the community. From March 30 – April 16 at noon, we have received 54 calls regarding people gathering in groups of more than five. We have used those occurrences as an opportunity to educate the public about the EMCPA and what is expected of them. Of the 54 calls, four warnings have been issued while 12 of the calls resulted in education regarding the EMCPA. No tickets have been issued at this time.”, stated Chief Stevenson.
The gatherings of five or more does not apply to households with five or more residents.
Significant increase in break and enter related calls for service.
In addition to responding to calls regarding people gathering, the Sault Police Service has experienced a significant increase in calls related to break and entries. Chief Stevens explains what actions are being taken to combat the increase, especially now that many businesses are closed due to the current restrictions.
“We have been analyzing our data since the emergency order came from the province, and even before the official order came from the Ontario government. Rather than wait for monthly statistics we have been analyzing our data on a more frequent basis to identify trends. We have noticed an increase in our calls regarding break and enters. From April 1-16 this year we have had 39 total break and enter calls, up from 24 in the same time in 2019. Specifically our calls for break and enters to businesses is up from 2 in 2019 to 15 in 2020. That is a significant increase.
As a result of this data we have launched a break and enter task force, which will entail an all hands on deck approach from patrol, investigations and our crime suppression areas of the service. The task force will have three mandates;
- High visibility with targeted patrols which will be intelligence lead;
- High Enforcement; and
- High education meaning advising business owners and residents on how to target harden their homes and commercial properties.
The community and Sault Police look at any criminal activity on unattended businesses during a pandemic as morally incredulous. We view this type of criminality as a mitigating factor at the time of sentencing. We will lobby our prosecutors to make these break and enters during this time as an aggravating circumstance in terms of sentencing. This is a message meant not only for our community as a whole, but to those in our community who are looking to prey on vulnerable people and businesses during this pandemic.
We will ask our prosecutors to increase compliance check requirements on release conditions so our officers are able to ensure those who are accused of these crimes are complying with their release conditions.”
For more information on the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, visit the Ontario e-laws section here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90e09